towns and cities

Changing property preferences due to the pandemic is, anecdotally at least, luring people out of cities and into the countryside. But new research from Legal & General and Demos suggests that people who live in towns and cities are most satisfied with their locality.

The new Place Satisfaction Index used a scale of -100 to +100 and concluded that, on average, satisfaction with our local areas was scored at +26.

This score was established by surveying 20,000 UK adults, asking them about their satisfaction levels with where they live. The survey measured their priorities against how they rate the provision of those factors.

Questions included housing, communities, going out, exercise, jobs, shopping, fresh air, transport and access to the Internet.

In their report, Everyday Places: Creating Strong Locations to Support Daily Life in Britain, insurer Legal & General and the cross-party think tank Demos reported that affordable housing was especially important among those scoring negative satisfaction rates.

The research identified London, Scotland and the West Midlands as home to the most satisfied residents.

The least satisfied people were found living in the South West, Wales and South East.

However, the most satisfied residents lived in city and town centres or suburban areas. These people were more satisfied with their local area than people living in rural locations or countryside villages.

Those people living in suburban areas were more likely to hold views about the local area closer to people living in other suburbs, rather than those living in nearby cities or town centres. The priorities for people living in town and city centres differed from those living in the suburbs.

The study was designed to understand satisfaction levels in every constituency area of the UK, highlighting the elements of living in that location that were of most importance to local people.

Legal & General and Demos want the government to use the findings to inform spending decisions for the levelling-up fund in England, worth £4 billion.

Nigel Wilson, chief executive at Legal & General, said:

“Covid-19 has driven major change to people’s lives and global economies. Our health, happiness and priorities around what we need from our communities have been challenged.”

“New, evidence-based thinking around retail, suburbs and green space is very valuable if we are to successfully build back better and move all local satisfaction levels upwards.

“Legal & General has invested more than £1.5bn since the start of the pandemic to drive forward change in regional economies, with a focus on reviving town centres and delivering quality affordable housing, transport and digital infrastructure.”

Kitty Ussher, chief economic advisor at Demos, said:

“The places we live in shape so much of what we do and how we live our lives — even more so during the last year. But it’s often been unclear how people’s priorities compare to their view on quality of provision.

“The index shows that some locations are better than others in meeting people’s routine needs and priorities. In particular, it shows the importance of good quality shops and access to fresh air and nature in our daily lives.”